Path to citizenship, immigrants' rights discussed at Hauppauge forum

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HAUPPAUGE -

More than 100 immigrants packed a room at the Radisson in Hauppauge Saturday to better educate themselves on their rights and to discuss fears of deportation.

A team of lawyers at the forum were on hand to help immigrants with issues including workplace discrimination to their pathway to citizenship.

Rodrigo Alvarenga, of Brentwood, is a so-called "Dreamer." He came to the U.S. from El Salvador with his parents when he was 5 years old. He's looking to graduate with an associate's degree in biology soon, but wonders about his future.

"I'm looking for citizenship, not only because this is my home, but I don't know anything else," says Alvarenga. "This is my life, in the United States, and I'm just trying to stay ahead."

Attorney William Ferro says there's legitimate fear among immigrants that they will get a knock on their door and get taken away. He's hoping to give them peace of mind and encourage them to pursue their dreams.

"We need to embrace them, not chase them out," says Ferro. "These are hard-working people who care about their families, send money back home, that add to our economy, that are law abiding."

The forum was set up by Liga De Justicia.

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